It’s finally here.
After eight long months, Bengals football is back and seemingly revived following an offseason of turnover and rebirth across the roster. Now it’s time to see the results on the field and find out what this team is capable of. Here are 16 meaningful numbers for every Bengals game this season.
WEEK 1: @ Indianapolis Colts
Andrew Luck is making his first start for the Colts in 20 months. That’s something this Bengals team, especially the front seven, should be able to take advantage of. Cincinnati fields one of the deepest defensive line groups in the NFL. Colts left tackle Anthony Castonzo could be out, which would make things even worse for Luck.
WEEK 2: Baltimore Ravens
When the Bengals made their final cuts, the average age of the roster was 25.2 years old. That made them one of the three youngest teams in the league. There isn’t a lot of experience on either side of the ball going into a home opener against a division rival. A lot of new faces have to step up for the Bengals to succeed this season and it starts by outplaying Baltimore in front of the home crowd.
WEEK 3: @ Carolina Panthers
It was a wild affair four years ago in Charlotte, Cam Newton led the Panthers offense to 37-37 tie with 391 total yards including 107 on the ground. If that happens again don’t expect the Bengals to bring home a victory in the Battle of Queen Cities. Cincinnati gave up 109 yards across four running quarterback matchups last season.
WEEK 4: @ Atlanta Falcons
Number 46.4 percent
The Bengals offense dominated headlines in a bad way this offseason but the defense was quietly solid last season especially in the red zone where they ranked 4th in touchdown scoring percentage. The Falcons offense finished 23rd on the flip side of that stat and were 1-5 on red zone tries in their opener against Philadelphia.
WEEK 5: Miami Dolphins
While Marvin Lewis is 3-3 all-time against the Miami Dolphins, he has matched up against the same head coach just once. Consistency in Miami has been tough to find over the past 15 years, Joe Philbin was the only coach to face Lewis twice. Ironically, they were two close victories for the Dolphins, barring a disastrous first month for Miami, Adam Gase will get his second crack at Lewis in week five.
WEEK 6: Pittsburgh Steelers
15 years in and Marvin Lewis has accrued 8 victories against the Pittsburgh Steelers in 32 games.
The Bengals haven’t knocked off the black and yellow in Paul Brown Stadium since September 2013 and this could be their best chance yet if Le’veon Bell is serious about his early season holdout.
WEEK 7: @ Kansas City Chiefs
Andy Reid always has his teams ready play, but when the Kansas City Chiefs perform at Arrowhead Stadium they are a different animal. Arrowhead and the Chiefs hold the record for loudest stadium crowd roar at 142.2 decibels. The Bengals dominated 28-6 in Kansas City six years ago and are looking to push the series winning streak to five games.
WEEK 8: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Amidst the James Winston controversy, there is a strong chance Ryan Fitzpatrick will be barking out calls at the line of scrimmage for Tampa Bay. William Jackson III and the Bengals secondary will be ready for Fitsy and his 136 career interceptions which ranks 73rd all time. He could realistically crack the top 60 of that group this season and Bengals will gladly help him get there.
WEEK 10: New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees has cemented his status as one of the all-time greats and he’s played like it against the Cincinnati Bengals. Brees has thrown for 1,078 yards in three games against Cincinnati in a Saints uniform. New Orleans is absolutely loaded with offensive weapons this season, a repeat of the 522-yard performance from 2006 is possible.
WEEK 11: @ Baltimore
It was a nightmare start to the year in 2017 and it all came to a head during the week one shutout in Baltimore. That should be burned deep into the minds of every returning player and give them an extra edge against a Baltimore team that could be led by Lamar Jackson at this point in the season.
WEEK 12: Cleveland Browns
The Browns are getting plenty of hype this season and some of it is warranted when you look at their revival at quarterback. 2017 starter Deshone Kizer led the league with 22 interceptions, while his replacement for this season, Tyrod Taylor, threw four. That 18 turnover gap should give the Browns a lot more chances to win this season and they won’t make it easy for a Bengals defense that finished 31st in takeaways last season.
WEEK 13: Denver Broncos
Von Miller is an All-Pro and one of the premier players at his position, he’s played like it against the Bengals. In six matchups he has five sacks and the offseason pairing of him and Bradley Chubb should strike fear into any opposing offensive line. Bobby Hart is a first-year starter for the Bengals at right tackle and if he still has that job in week 13 he will have his hands full.
WEEK 14: @ Los Angeles Chargers
Philip Rivers and the Chargers led the NFL with 4,431 passing yards last year using a dynamic attack featuring every skill position in the offense. Meanwhile, the Bengals finished 8th in passing yards allowed, the matchups between LA skill players and the Bengals secondary will be key all afternoon.
WEEK 15: Oakland Raiders
Jon Gruden hasn’t coached against Marvin Lewis and the Bengals since October 15, 2006, or roughly 4,346 days. Oakland just traded away their best player, Khalil Mack, from a defense that ranked 29th in the league last year with him on the field. It could be a long season in Oakland and they start winding it down with a trip to Cincinnati.
WEEK 16: @ Cleveland
The Browns have been a laughing stock for the majority of their time as a franchise and their matchups with the Bengals are no different. Cleveland is 4-12 against Cincinnati this decade and hasn’t taken out Andy Dalton and Co. in Cleveland since September 29, 2013. The odds keep stacking against the Hardland of America.
WEEK 17: @ Pittsburgh
Le’veon Bell is the lifeblood of the Steelers offense, accounting for 85 percent of the teams rushing yards and 13 percent of the teams receiving yards last season. He is holding out to start the season because the man wants to get paid, but he will be playing in this game barring injury. The week 17 matchup has playoff implications written all over it and I highly doubt he misses it, I know I won’t.
A prediction for Sunday, plus thoughts on Mayfield and the AFC North
I give a prediction for Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers, plus I react to the Browns’ win last night, discuss Baker Mayfield’s performance and more on today’s podcast. Listen and subscribe below.
Mark Walton is Ready for the Challenge
This Sunday, the Cincinnati Bengals will look for production out of their rookie running back they selected in the fourth round. Some expressed concern over the pick, but make no mistake, Mark Walton is ready to showcase his talent.
Chances are, if you’re reading this, you saw his performance in the preseason, and you may have had some questions. Let me enlighten you as to why I am looking forward to…no…excited to see Walton get some plays in.
Walton saw his junior season cut short due to an ankle injury, but before that happened, he compiled a pair of impressive games. He became just the fifth Miami Hurricane to ever rush for 200+ yards in a game, and he did it on 11 carries! Here are some highlights from that game:
His last full season of college football, 2016, he was the starter, as a sophomore, for the Hurricanes. He rushed for 1,117 yards and 14 touchdowns. He made it on to the third team, All-ACC, according to the ACSMA and ACC coaches, and that was in a year that guys like Dalvin Cook, James Conner, and Wayne Gallman all made All-Conference in the ACC. Here are a few highlights from his sophomore campaign:
Walton was touted as a steal by some national writers (the same who have dogged the Bengals this year). He’s got winning pedigree, because he won a state title with Booker T. Washington high school, in Miami, and he ran a 4.6 40-yd dash. He profiles, according to NFL.com, as a third-down back with speed on the outside and decent hands. Look for him to spell Gio on some passing downs and, maybe, even see them in, together, if Bill Lazor decides to get creative. I mean, come on, if he’s this good in shorts, he’s a shoe-in to turn some heads when he puts on the pads:
Make sure you’ve got your subscription to the podcast, you’ve rated it five stars, and you keep your Twitter feed tuned in to @lockedonBengals, @jamesrapien, and @jefffcarr for all your daily Bengals content, throughout the season.
The offense should survive without Price and Mixon
I discuss the Bengals’ offense, why they should survive without Billy Price and Joe Mixon, plus I chat with Darqueze Dennard on today’s podcast. Listen and subscribe below.
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